November is a month to celebrate many things. As followers of Christ we use this month as a time of Thanksgiving. Some writers use this month to celebrate insanity by writing a novel of 50,000 words or more in a month. Yes, I am among the crazy people involved in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It is interesting to read some of the discussions on the message boards that the novelists use and on Facebook as they discuss their plots, or ask for help getting out of the intricate story lines they’ve developed. My story line isn’t that intricate, but I still thought of a clever twist, wrote for a couple of hours following the twist and right in the middle of it I lamented that this beautiful twist drove right into two plot holes! Now, I must find a way to recover from the plot holes. But, it’s fiction. It’s not the truth. I can make things up to fix it.
The early Christians had a story to tell. They told a true story that seemed incredible at the time. A man, born of a virgin who was the Son of God; who performed miracles and healed the sick, raised the dead, and feed the thousands; who constantly outsmarted the religious leaders; who was crucified, dead, and buried; who rose from the dead and now empowers each and every follower of His. Talk about an amazing story! The apostles had to make sure that people realized one thing as they told this story: this story is truth. “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
Many religions have stories that have the focus being of the religion doing some fantastic things. The Greeks and Romans in their days had some interesting myths that very few people actually believed. We have some religions today that have been built on the idea that the hero in their religion was involved in amazing feats of heroism or strength to rescue the people, to punish evildoers, or whatever was necessary for the people or the religion to survive. Some religions are based on tales where one person can explain the marvels because they experienced them, but there is no verification of those marvels. It would be like I decided to tell you that I am following a religion based on the need to eat 2 pounds of chocolate a day because I did that and talked with a god in the process and that one of the things he told me was that we must do that same thing, but that he would never appear again in this way. The early church told these amazing stories of Jesus, but they spoke from the experience of living with Him. There were others who could verify the story. Even as the story of the Resurrection of Jesus, the most incredible, unbelievable part of our faith was shared, the Jews and the Romans who could have put an end to all the nonsense by producing the body of Jesus couldn’t do that. The stories of Jesus, as fantastic as they are, did not come from the mind of an author with an incredibly lenient editor; they came from the experiences of those who lived with Him.
When we read the stories of Jesus in the Bible, we are reading truth. We are reading the tales of eyewitnesses whom no one contradicted. We can have assurance that when we talk about Jesus healing, feeding 5000 folks, or even making the Pharisees and Sadducees wear figurative dunce caps, we are telling the truth. Many will reject this truth. Many will seek a different way to look at the facts. Ultimately though, our message about Jesus is not designed to help us so much as it is designed to help others come to have a relationship with God through His grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. It is a message of “other-interest” not self-interest.
Lord God. Remind me of the truth of who Jesus is. Help me to spread the story of Your grace and mercy that is available to all people through Jesus.